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The New York State
Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse


Information Related to New York's Nov. 7, 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum

 

Notes

A large fraction of the no campaign websites, perhaps most, have been coded so that they are not visible to search engines such as Google or Bing.  If the past is a reliable guide, many of these websites will be deleted shortly after the referendum with no public trace remaining.

Please keep in mind the distinction between communications to members and the general public. The type of communication tends to be quite different in the two cases.  In general, the no campaign has one classy coalition website that is promoted to the public.  Meanwhile, its coalition member organizations have separate websites directed to their own members.

In contrast, the yes campaign has no well-organized coalition and accompanying website.  Instead, organizations supporting a yes vote each tend to have their own website directed to the general public.  The logic of such websites and related media is discussed in Snider, J.H., Why Foes of a State Constitutional Convention Have The Upper Hand, City & State, September 13, 2017.

Vote Yes

*Citizens Union

Committee for a Constitutional Convention.

  • Principal: Evan Davis.  Bio: Senior Counsel Cleary Gottlieb, former Counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo, President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and Vice Chair of Columbia University Board.
  • Website: Committee for a Constitutional Convention

*Forward March New York

*League of Women Voters of New York State.

New Kings Democrats

  • Principal: Anusha Venkataraman. New Kings Democrats is a progressive, grassroots political organization committed to bringing trans­parency, accountability, and inclusionary democracy to the Kings County Democratic Party.
  • Website: New Kings Democrats

LegalWeed4NY. See also Cannabis4ny.org

  • Principal: Jerome W. Dewald.  Bio: Partner in the marketing research firm, Awesomepova Research, which studies marketing and social media in the cannabis space, and Executive Director of Tax and Regulate NY State 2019, which seeks to place a constitutional amendment legalizing adult-use cannabis before the New York voters through a state constitutional convention.
  • Website:Cannabis4ny.org
  • Facebook page. Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019
  • Claimed endorsements

Long Island Association

*New York State Bar Association

*New York City Bar Association

*NY People’s Convention

Restrict & Regulate in NY State 2019 (RRNY)

Sanctuary State Project

Vote No

Umbrella Groups

New Yorkers Against Corruption (directed to the general public)

No New York Convention (directed to members of the anti-concon coalition)

  • Website: No New York Convention. Note: Most of what this organization publishes is not available on this public website. Nevertheless, it is widely available among New Yorkers Against Corruption member organizations under No New York Convention branding.

Other Groups (mostly members of New Yorkers Against Corruption)

Agudath Israel

Citizen Action

  • Principal: Karen Scharf, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, Co-chair of the Working Families Party, and head of the Education Fund (the non-profit affiliate of Citizen Action).  According to a 2015 Times Union article, the Education Fund received $210,000 from NYSUT.  Note: Ms. Scharf majored in Social Studies at Harvard College when the editor of this clearinghouse, J.H. Snider, was majoring in the same department.
  • Website: Citizen Action

Communications Workers of America–Local 1107

Conservative Party of New York State

*CSEA (Local 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO)

Council of Administrators and Supervisors

DC37-AFSCME–American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (“New York City’s Largest Public Union”).

Detectives’ Endowment Association

Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local 638

Fiscal Policy Institute

  • Principal: Ron Deutsch, Executive Director. (Note: FPI is one of the education arms of the union movement, with its board controlled by leading New York unions, including NYSUT, AFSCME, and DC37.)
  • Website/Policy Brief: Deutsch, Ron, A Constitutional Convention – A Risk NOT Worth Taking, Fiscal Policy Institute, 2017.

Grand Island Central School District

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers–IAM 48

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW 36

Local 38

New York AFL-CIO

New York Civil Liberties Union

New York Families

Website: So What About The Proposals On The Ballot This Year?

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms

New York State Alliance for Retired Americans

New York State Nurses Association

New York State PTA

*New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF)

New York State Young Democrats

*NYSUT

Police Benevolent Association, Nassau County (PBA)

PEF–New York State Public Employees Federation.

  • Principal: Wayne Spence, President of the New York State Public Employees Federation.
  • Website: PEF–New York State Public Employees Federation
  • Articles: The Communicator: April 2017, page 7 and May 2017, page 6.

Planned Parenthood Empire State

  • Website: Planned Parenthood Empire State (Note that despite being listed as a convention opponent and making at least statements to the press explaining its opposition in soundbite length quotes, it didn’t post anything about its opposition on its website.)

Professional Staff Congress (PSC)

Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA)

School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

Teamsters Joint Council 16

United Federation of Teachers

United University Professions (an affiliate of NYSUT)

Women’s City Club of New York

Vote No Letter-To-Editor Template

NYSUT

Available at www.nysut.org/concon (requires login).

United University Professions

Source: Sample Letter to the Editor #2 (accessed August 1, 2017; #1 was not made publicly available), United University Professions.

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage every New Yorker to vote “No” this November to stop New York state from wasting millions of tax dollars on a constitutional convention that would, at best, reaffirm the status quo and could, at worst, take away our rights and protections.

The state Constitution guarantees the right to a free public education, to join a union, to protect our health, to care for the needy, to safe jobs, and to protect state lands and forests. These rights—and many more—are at risk if a constitutional convention is convened.

Don’t trust everything you read. It is not going to be a “People’s Convention,” as some well-financed people would like you to believe. History has shown that the vast majority of delegates would come from the same political apparatus we deal with in Albany right now. Past constitutional conventions have been costly extensions of state legislative sessions—filled with political posturing—with the same politicians and special interest groups running the show. Of the 186 delegates to the 1967 convention, 154 held public office. That means lawmakers elected as delegates could double their salaries and significantly fatten their pensions. And the overall cost is absurd—estimates are that a convention could cost between $50 million and $100 million.

If we believe changes are necessary, there are less costly and more effective ways to accomplish them than a convention. Specifically, the New York State Constitution can be amended through the state Legislature—as it has been more than 200 times—most recently in 2015 to create an independent commission on redistricting, and to allow the Legislature to save money by going paperless for proposed bills.

With all of the issues we’re facing—the possible loss of health care coverage for millions of New Yorkers, and keeping public education accessible and affordable—there are better ways to spend our hard-earned tax dollars than on an unnecessary convention.

I urge you to Vote No on the Nov. 7 ballot referendum to hold a constitutional convention.

United Federation of Teachers

Guidelines for Submitting Letters to the Editor, UFT, Retired Teachers Chapter

Source:Write letters against constitutional convention,” Retired Teachers Chapter News, July 6, 2017.

To the Editor;

There are almost never simple solutions to complex challenges and for this reason, a “no” vote on a constitutional convention is the only sensible choice for New Yorkers this November. We all want better government but creating an open-ended process controlled by professional politicians at a cost of potentially hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars isn’t the best way to achieve it.

Seniors especially should understand that the state constitution has important protections such as provisions against age discrimination, the right to an absentee ballot, assurance of access to nursing care and labor standards.

(Alternate paragraphs — choose one:)

  1. Seniors should understand that the state constitution provides protection against age discrimination. This is especially important on the job and in seeking employment as about one-third of 65- to 75-year-olds in New York still work and make up a significant portion of the workforce.
  2. Seniors should understand that the state constitution provides important labor protections, setting the standards for the minimum wage, workday hours and fairness in how overtime is paid.
  3. Seniors, who use the absentee ballot more than any other group, should understand that the state constitution provides important protections that ensure their voting rights.
  4. Retirees who depend on their pensions can lose them. This will result in a dramatic blow to the state’s economy as those pensions create 216,000 jobs, contribute $35 billion to the economy and result in $4.13 billion in New York State taxes.

There are already better ways to modify the constitution than by opening it up to wholesale changes that put rights and protections at risk.

Sample use of this letter, Say no to constitutional convention, published in the The Riverdale Press.

Other (Discussion Boards)